Firefighters battle southwest Oklahoma wildfire

Friday, August 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOBART, Okla. (AP) -- Firefighters aided by helicopter water drops Friday afternoon were able to contain a wildfire that charred about 200 acres on a mountainside in southwestern Oklahoma.

The fire on King Mountain in Kiowa County started when lightning from a thunderstorm apparently ignited dry brush on the mountain's
south side Wednesday afternoon.

By Friday afternoon, it had also burned parts of the western and northern sides of the mountain, Undersheriff Buck Jones said. The
toughest work for firefighters was getting at the flames because of the fire's location on a rough mountain.

"You have to wait for it to come to you before you could do a whole lot," Jones said. "They did a dang good job though of keeping it contained."

A National Guard helicopter was called in to dump large buckets of water on the fire.

"The word I have is that they have the fire contained and helicopter would now work the hot spots," said Pat McDowell, assistant director of the state Agriculture Department's forestry division.

By Thursday night, flames had spread to within about three miles of the Quartz Mountain State Park, where the $17 million Quartz Mountain Lodge is under construction. The lodge will replace one that was destroyed by fire in 1995.

The fire did not threaten the lodge.

Portions of Oklahoma 44 at the base of the mountain were closed intermittently because smoke blowing across the highway created a
driving hazard.

McDowell said local crews had secured an abandoned drug treatment center on the mountain's north side.

McDowell said a Red Flag Fire Alert has been issued for most of the state's southern counties.